Big Science Titles from Tim Flannery, Michio Kaku, & More | Barbara’s Picks, Feb. 2014, Pt. 4

Ferreira, Pedro G. The Perfect Theory: A Century of Geniuses and the Battle Over General Relativity. Houghton Harcourt. Feb. 2014. 304p. ISBN 9780547554891. $28; ebk. ISBN 9780547554907. SCIENCE
Oxford astrophysicist Ferreira writes for trade as well as academic publications and frequently appears on the BBC, so we can trust him to write limpidly about a theory that still sticks like glue in the brains of the scientifically challenged. He doesn’t so much explain the theory as assess its impact, general relativity having given rise to black holes, dark energy, and modern cosmology but also debate, resistance, and downright neglect. Albert Einstein published the theory of relativity in 1915, so this book is the opening salvo in what will likely be a spate of anniversary studies.

Flannery, Tim. An Explorer’s Notebook: Essays on Life, History, and Climate. Grove. Feb. 2014. 288p. ISBN 9780802122315. $26. NATURE
Called one of the top three most influential scientists today by Bill Bryson, a rock star of his discipline by Jared Diamond, and comparable to great explorers like Dr. David Livingston by Sir David Attenborough, Flannery has discovered more species than Charles Darwin. He’s also an internationally best-selling author. This volume presents 30 pieces, written over the past 25 years, that constitute a portrait of his education as a scientist. Flannery will take you to New Guinea and Indonesia to introduce the people and animals he’s encountered while also highlighting the issue of global warming—not surprising, since he’s cofounder and chair of the Copenhagen Climate Council.

Holt, Nathalia. Cured: How the Berlin Patients Defeated HIV and Forever Changed Medical Science. Dutton. Feb. 2014. 368p. ISBN 9780525953920. $27.95. MEDICAL
In a book bound to stir hope, interest, and debate, Holt discusses the science behind what appears to be a functional cure for HIV. Two men known as the Berlin Patients were effectively cured by different treatments in Berlin, one in 1996 and the other in 2002. A research scientist specializing in HIV biology, Holt tells us not only how these cures came about—detailing the personal stories of both men and of the physicians involved—but what the consequences have been for the continuing scientific investigation of HIV and the development of drugs by Big Pharma.

Kaku, Michio. The Future of the Mind. Doubleday. Feb. 2014. 352p. ISBN 9780385530828. $28.95. CD: Random Audio. PHYSICS
Having wowed us with New York Times best sellers like Physics of the Future, CUNY physics professor Kaku takes us into the new neuroscience. Recording memories, telepathy, videotaping our dreams—those aren’t sf fantasies but reality. And soon we might be able to upload our brains to a computer and control computers and robots with our minds. With an eight-city tour to Boston, Washington, DC, Chicago, Minneapolis, Seattle, Portland (OR), San Francisco, and Los Angeles; expect big demand.

Barbara Hoffert About Barbara Hoffert

Barbara Hoffert (, @BarbaraHoffert on Twitter) is Editor, LJ Prepub Alert; past chair of the Materials Selection Committee of the RUSA (Reference and User Services Assn.) division of the American Library Association; and past president, treasurer, and awards chair of the National Book Critics Circle.